Freedom indeed

Today’s lectionary readings are: Psalm 76; Zephaniah 1.1 – 2.3; Matthew 17.22–27.

In Matthew 17 we read of Jesus’ response to the question of paying the temple tax. This was collected once a year from every adult male Jew for the maintenance of the Jerusalem temple and its rituals . It seems to be required by the law of Moses (Exodus 30.13–16) but was controversial at the time of Jesus. Apparently, the Essenes argued, against the Pharisees, that the tax was not required by the law (see Hagner, Matthew 14–28, Word Biblical Commentary, 1995, 508–513). Jesus argues that just as the children of a king would be free from tax, so the children of God (Israelites or Jesus’ followers?) are free from the temple tax.  Even so, he pays the tax for himself and Peter so as not to give offense. True freedom, then, is not  freedom to do what you want but freedom to do what is right. It is freedom to act in loving concern for others. This is the kind of freedom Jesus brings; ‘Please help us, Loving God, to live by it’.

One Response

  1. Zephaniah is a cheery read for a cold winters day don’t you think! Certainly knows how to catch your attention and lay it on thick! You did warn me, Robert, that I could look forward to more of Zephaniah.

    Annnyway, why did the coin have to come out of the mouth of a fish? Was there a point being made here?

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